Final reflections on Broome.

Final reflections on Broome.

It’s my last evening in Broome and I finish the way I started with a swim at Cable Beach.

It’s been 43 years since I first came to Broome much has changed but something remain.

Like Sun Pictures, the outdoor cinema that has been in operation since 1916.

But the cultural aspects have expanded.

Art and Street Art abounds

Reflecting the history and character of the town.

Old building have been repurposed.

The old sail makers shed now part of the museum. Housing a collection of then and now photos.

Mmm 1978, yes that’s when I was last here!

And it’s the Kimberley so big Boad trees in the streets.

But its not perfect.

Somedays a Crocodile decides to put a stop to swims at the beach.

But at festival time there is music in the streets

Tomorrow the Steinbock will be loaded and I start the trip south.

Western Australia, is a huge state, about 1/3 of the Australian Continent.

It’s nearly 3000km to Perth, the states capital, and a further 3500km across the country to my home town of Melboure.

So Broome I’m sad to leave but there is more country to see.

Broome – the wildlife

Broome – the wildlife

A mother Osprey guards her chicks in the nest built on the Pont Grantheaume

Broome on the shores of Roebuck Bay is a haven for birds and sea animals. In particular its home to the rare and threatened Snubfin Dolphin

Netting in the Bay had led to these dolphins coming under threat. Many of the dolphins I saw had scars on their skin or pieces out of their fins due to being caught in nets.

Since native title has been established netting has been banned and the area is now a Marine National Park. With all marine animals re establishing in the Bay.

The National Park is also home to various turtles this Flat Back Turtle an example.

Manta Rays and an amazing diversity of local and migratory birds.

Such as terns

And my favourite the majestic White Bellied Sea Eagle.

I did the cruise with Broome Whale Watching. Additional to these beautiful animals we say Dugong, other species of turtle and a Humpback Whale breaching.

Recreational fishing still part in the Bay and the local aborigines fish traditionally with spears.

Such a beautiful place.

Broome’s Festival of the Pearl – Shinju Matsuri

Broome’s Festival of the Pearl – Shinju Matsuri

The lustre of pearl drove the colonial development of Broome in the 1870s and remains a major industry to this day.

Prior to this for millennia the aborigines used and traded mother of pearl shell and used it for decoration and ceremony.

This Riji is the carving of pearl shell shell unique to the North East Kimberley.

These pieces of Riji are part of an exhibition called Lustre the history of pearling in Australia.

The Shinju Matsuri celebrates the role of the pearl in Broome.

The festival integrates culture of Japanese and Chinese pearl divers who came here over a century ago and made Broome home with indigenous and colonial history.

The lantern festival at Cable Beach captures a Japanese Tradition.

The street parade is led in a burst of colour and energy by the Chinese Dragon.

The Shinju festival also offers lots of exhibitions street music and art.

There is a beautiful projection down at the Town Beach

But it was the Riji that totally captivated me.

So I took a long ride, over 200km each way to the top of the Dampier Peninsula.

Over made roads and some thick sand roads

To meet Bruce Wiggan, a local elder and master pearl shell carver at his studio.

Aboriginal art tells a story. This piece tells the story of the making the laws of hunting between local tribes. These laws, this agreement bought harmony.

I’m now the keeper of this beautiful piece of Riji and it’s story.

On to Broome and completing the Savannah Way

On to Broome and completing the Savannah Way

Leaving Halls Creek there were sights to see but I had my heart set on Broome.

A stop at the big Boab on the side of the road.

It 43 years since, as a young man, since I was last riding a motorcycle up in north Western Australia, the Kimberley.

The road was unsealed and rough then.

Remnants of the old road still exist. Including the old corrugated iron shed that was the garage.

When I had some bike problems all those years ago. The owners let me use a corner of the workshop to replace the head gasket on my Norton Commando!

Finally Broome and the end of the Savannah Way crossing the north of Australia from the Pacific to the Indian Oceans.

And swim at Cable Beach. My first swim in the ocean since late June in Queensland.

With its Camel Rides,

Sunsets,

Coastal birds

And the Stairway to the Moon.

Given Western Australia’s covid free status and Broome’s beautiful weather it’s crowded and I had to camp 25km out of town for a couple of nights.

It was a good place to give the Steinbock a wash.

In company with the bush birds like this little Sparrowhawk

Now I have a room in a hostel in the town of Broome which is in the throws of its annual festival, the Shinju Matsuri.

But more on that next post.

Water springs eternal on the road to Wave Hill

Water springs eternal on the road to Wave Hill

Wave Hill is the town where fight for aboriginal land rights took a first decisive step with the Wave Hill Walkoff

I have been reminded that 23 August 2021 is the 55th Anniversary of the Wave Hill Walkoff.

I didn’t go all the way out to Wave Hill

After the hot dusty Bungle Bungles I was after a cold spring to soak in and such places existed on the road from Halls Creek to Wave Hill.

The first spring was Palm Spring just off the Wave Hill road.

The swimming hole was deep and cold just perfect to refresh the body.

I was going to set up camp there but a couple of locals, who had come out for a swim suggested Sawpit Gorge a few kms north offered better camping further off the road.

As I say -local knowledge is the best knowledge.

So I set up camp on a flat area above the gorge and the spring fed stream.

It was near a full moon that night.

Which shone a silver light on the Ghost Gum I was camped under.

Making it a ghostly silver in moons beam.

I have spent a long time in the outback and at this point I was only around 600km from the west coast and the Indian Ocean.

My next swim will be in salt water having crossed the northern part of Australia from Innisfail on the Pacific Ocean to Broome on the Indian Ocean.

I will finish this with Paul Kelly’s musical tribute to the Wave Hill Walkoff.

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

Back heading west on the Savannah Way and a stop at Keep River National Park

The savannah woodlands stretched out to the horizon.

Crossing the big rivers I didn’t need a sign to say I was back on the Savannah Way.

Just before the Northern Territory/ Western Australia border there is the Keep River National Park.

About 18 km in from the Rangers station is the main camping ground.

A special part of North Western Australia is the amazing rock formations.

There are a number of walks through the rock canyons at Keep River. I will give you a taste of these beautiful rock formations.

From the lookout the rocky range stretches out through the savannah

The stunning colours of the rock and landscape.

And there is the beautiful Rainbow Bee Eater, flitting around the forest.

As the sun sets the rocks turn red reflecting the setting sun’s fire.

When the light is gone the Milky Way fills the sky.

There is nothing like the stars in the outback.

So I’m now sitting in Kununurra, in the State of Western Australia. Supplies have been purchased ready for the next outback leg of my journey.

Nitmiluk National Park 2 – colours of Katherine Gorge

Nitmiluk National Park 2 – colours of Katherine Gorge

Katherine Gorge is the tourism centre piece of the Nitmiluk National Park.

The Gorge is over 16km long. In the dry season it is made up of 13 separate gorges each separated by natural rock rapids and waterfalls.

In the wet season, the monsoon, the water depth is, average 7 metres higher and the Gorge is one rushing torrent of water.

I was there in the dry season.

From a kayak there is a water eye view of the steep cliffs and the little barriers that separate the 13 sub gorges.

On an evening boat cruise at sunset the colours and the reflections take on a more reddish hew.

And after the sun has set

If your lucky the full moon rises

And of course there are the inhabitants of Katherine Gorge

The fresh water crocodiles

The colours of Katherine Gorge are indeed beautiful!

Nitmiluk National Park 1 – Edith Falls

Nitmiluk National Park 1 – Edith Falls

There are two major accomodation hubs in the Nitmiluk NP a small campground at Edith Falls and camping , cabins and 5 star lodges at Katherine Gorge.

Edith Falls campground sits beside a big lagoon at the bottom of a series of waterfalls where the Edith River cascades downward off the Arnham Land Plateau.

The Upper Falls swimming hole is at the top of the escarpment

But the Edith River has more treasures further up stream.

An appropriate 2km walk along the top of the Plateau is the Long Pool.

A perfect place for a natural spa

A further 2km along the trail is Sweet water

A lovely swimming hole it is also the final camping spot on the Jarbulla trail.

You can also walk up from Edith Falls campground and camp overnight at Sweetwater.

The swimming whole that will stick in my mind though is the Long Pool

There are no reservations at the Edith Falls campground so it’s best to get there early as the sites go quickly.

The kiosk is really friendly for checking in and healthy snacks

If you don’t want to hike to swim the main swimming hole.

Which at sunset turns an amazing shade of red at sunset.

Into the Northern Territory- more hot springs, how can life be so hard!

Into the Northern Territory- more hot springs, how can life be so hard!

I was running short of supplies to find a supermarket.

Nearest supermarket – 550km by mainly sealed roads or 334 by mainly dirt roads.

So it was back on the dirt roads again and refreshed by the healing waters of Boodjamulla it was time to make big distance.

A stop at Riversliegh (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riversleigh_World_Heritage_Area) the world heritage fossil site.

Through river crossings

And onto the city of Mount Isa.

Refreshed from my swimming at Boodjamulla is time was time to make miles.

Some Covid outbreaks in Queensland influencing my decision to get west while I could.

I covered the just over 1,600km to Mataranka hot springs a 2 and a half days.

Met up with some fellow bikers on the way

Joined up again with the beautiful Savannah woodlands

And celebrated being back in the Northern Territory with a soak in the hot thermal waters of Mataranka on a moonlight night.

And how could I resist a dawn swim!

The steam rising of the thermal water in the cool morning air.

Border entry into Western Australia is very strict with a requirement to be in the Northern Territory (classified covid low risk) for 14 days before entering.

Nitmiluk National Park was my next stop and where I have spent most of my current time in the Northern Territory.

My next few posts will cover this amazing piece of Australia.

Boodjamulla National Park -oasis on the Queensland /NT border

Boodjamulla National Park -oasis on the Queensland /NT border

From the Oasis that is the Gregory River there is a rough dirt road that runs west into the desert.

Boodjamulla NP and Adels Grove are oasis neighbours on the spring fed Lawn Hill Creek

Adels Grove is a large campground oasis flanking both sides of the stream.

There is small bistro, lots of camping and cabins, swimming holes, bushwalks and wildlife.

Quite amazing for somewhere so remote.

Adels Grove has an amazing history. Planted as a tropical botanic garden in the 1920s.

Remnants of those original planting still flank Lawn Hill Creek

Approx 8km upstream from Adels Grove is Boodjamulla National Park and spectacular gorge.

The gorge can be enjoyed by kayaking in the 3km of gorge open to the public or by walking the top of the gorge.

The waters at Boodjamulla are healing in Waanyi dreaming.

When I arrived at Boodjamulla the months on the road was telling on my body.

Indeed a week bathing in these waters were healing.